Online courses

Online courses

Making Connections from Home > Online Courses

In this day and age, you can learn just about anything you want online – and it doesn’t have to cost you a penny. You might want to pick up a new skill, take a course that will secure you your next job, or explore a subject just out of curiousity. All of this is possible – but where do you start? This is your guide to finding the right course for you.

In this guide:

Why learn online?

Of all the things you could do at home, why should you take an online course? Here are some benefits:

  • It’s a good way to get a sense of achievement. If we haven’t been able to go out, it can help to feel like we’ve achieved something at home. Some people will get this from exercising, others from cooking a delicious meal, and others from pursuing a creative project. You might get your kicks from exercising your academic brain – and pursuing an online course is a good way to do that.
  • It can give you some structure to your day. When it comes to learning, it’s always best to do a little every day. Taking an online course means you can easily create yourself a routine to follow each day.
  • It’s a good way to connect with others. This could be someone you’ve encouraged to do the course with you, or it could be the people you meet online who are also doing the course. Soon you might find a community of like-minded people who share your interests.
  • It can give you new skills you can use in life. There are a huge range of courses dedicated to practical skills, and still more that cover “soft” skills that you can use in your relationships – both professional and personal!
  • It can make you more employable. Some of the courses on this page will give you certification is recognised by the relevant industries. This can be a great chance to add something new to your CV.

How to choose the right online course for you

  • Think about how much time you have to commit. Is it an intensive course that demands several hours of time a week? Is it a course that you need to commit to for the next 8 months? Don’t be too ambitious – it’s much easier to keep going with a shorter course, and if you finish it and want to keep learning, you can always choose another one.
  • Think about your learning style. Is there any project or course work involved, or is it purely videos and reading? Some people like to put their learning into practice, whereas others like to be tested regularly on their knowledge. Maybe if you don’t know what your learning style is, just try a course to find out.
  • Do you prefer to learn with others? If so, find a course where you can ask other people questions in a forum or work with them on a group project. Better yet, find a family member or friend who will do it with you.
  • Do you prefer to have a certificate? Some courses provide you with a certificate at the end that you can mention on your CV. For lots of people, the prospect of having this this a great motivator.

How to get the most out of your experience

  • Find regular time each week to study and learn the next set of material. This is relevant regardless of whether the course is a “live” course that takes place over a certain period of time or a course you can do at your own pace.
  • Make sure you have a good space to learn. It should be a quiet space, free of distractions, and preferably separate to the space you relax or sleep in. If you don’t have this kind of space, it doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker – it’s possible to study in cramped conditions, just not ideal!
  • Don’t be too rigid. Life sometimes gets in the way so if you miss your dedicated evening to study, it’s good to make sure you have other free time during your week just in case. If you fall back a week on a course, this isn’t the end – never underestimate your ability to catch up.
  • Tell others about it! It can help to find someone who you can talk to each week about what you’ve learned. It’s good for motivation, and it’s also good for being able to recall your learning. Even better, find someone who can do the course with you, as mentioned above.

Free courses

Khan Academy

  • Free courses mainly in maths, economics, engineering and history 
  • No teacher interaction – mainly video content and exercises 


  • A wide range of high-quality courses by leading universities
  • In the free version, access courses for two weeks after their initial release
  • Upgrade to get ongoing access to courses as well as certification upon completing a course
  • Network of tutors to interact with, as well as a social learning platform to learn alongside others


  • A list of over 1,500 free online courses by leading universities
  • Courses are categorised by topic and include history, art, philosophy, literature, maths, business, chemistry, physics, writing & journalism


  • Over 2,500 courses from 140 top institutions 
  • From short courses to Masters level in 31 different subject areas 
  • Most courses are self-paced
  • Although the site is free, it costs £45 for a course certificate

Google Digital Garage

  • Choose from 126 courses 
  • Categories include data and tech, digital marketing and career development  
  • Create an account to start learning 


  • Over 100 courses in 9 distinct categories 
  • Register for a free Alison account 
  • Certificates and Diplomas can be purchased once you complete a course  

BT – Skills for Tomorrow

  • Free learning courses and resources 
  • Categories including daily life, parents, work life, business and teachers 
  • Some courses require you to login to start learning 

Open Learn

  • Nearly 1000 free online courses across 8 different subject areas 
  • Open Learn courses are produced by The Open University 
  • Create an Open Learn profile to record your achievements 

Open Learn Create

  • Choose from 510 free courses across 23 different categories 
  • Open Learn Create courses are produced by The Open University 
  • Create an Open Learn Create profile to record your achievements 


  • Wikihow isn’t necessarily a site for courses but if you are looking to learn a new skill, WikiHow is a go-to destination for clear tutorials on any subject.
  • It’s particular strong on practical skills, including cooking, healthcare, garening, outdoors, DIY and repairs.

Low-cost courses


  • 100,000 courses in 13 different categories 
  • Create an Udemy account to start learning 
  • Course fees as advertised on the above site 

Linkedin Learning

  • Over 15,000 courses 
  • Categories include business, technology and creative 
  • New users can start learning with a free month 
  • Please note that this is a subscription (monthly or annually) learning provider 


  • Over 4,100 courses from world class universities and companies 
  • Coursera’s “courses” are 4-6 week programs which give you a new skill. “Specialisations” take around 4-6 months and are a collection of courses on a related.
  • Some courses cost from $39 (it is a US-based website), whereas others involve a monthly subscription fee.
  • Joining Coursera gives you access to Coursera Communinty, an online hub of learners who you can talk to.

Online universities

EDx Programs

  • As well as free courses, EDx offer diifferent types of program which aim to give you a higher education course online. This includes “micromasters”, “microbachelors” and professional certificates.
  • Prices vary widely. For example, some micromasters cost around £500
  • These courses involve a dedicated instrucctor or set of instructors who will set work to be completed by a particular date.
  • Courses are developed by leading universities in the US.

Coursera Degrees

  • Similar to EDx programs – these are offered by leading universities and give you recognised certification
  • The main subject areas offered are business, computer science, data science and public health

The Open University

  • Undergraduate and Postgraduate courses in 37 different subject areas 
  • Course fees vary by subject, level and location within the UK 

Open College Of The Arts

  • A non-profit institution in the UK offering foundation-level and degree-level courses at a small cost compared to other universities 
  • Courses include: Drawing, Painting Photography, Textiles, Interior Design, Creative Writing and Music 

Live training

This is a list of websites where you can search for upcoming live webinars. These are opportunities to learn live alongside others and ask the tutor questions as they lecture on a topic.

Google Digital Garage Live Webinars

  • Topics cover digital marketing, business and career development


  • Live classes by tutors on a huge range of subjects including photography, video editing, personal finance, enterpreneurship, self-improvement, communication, and song writing
  • Subscription based with a monthly fee to access all live classes
  • Based in the US so many classes are likely to take place quite late in the evening